|Time||10 p.m. ET|
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The New Orleans Pelicans will finish off a four-game road trip Thursday night with a stop in Denver to face the Nuggets.
The first three games of the road trip went well for the Pelicans as they posted a 2-1 record. New Orleans was close to making it a perfect 3-0, but a second-half collapse against Golden State on Tuesday spoiled those chances.
Denver has also played great basketball as of late and has won four consecutive games. That win streak was much needed as Denver holds just a three-game lead in the Western Conference after being up six games just a few weeks ago.
Denver is firmly in playoff position as the No. 1 seed in the West, but New Orleans is the No. 8 seed, so every matchup matters for the Pelicans down the stretch.
The New Orleans Pelicans have picked up some momentum during this road trip, but that momentum actually began to build on March 19th against the Rockets.
That win against Houston marked the first game of New Orleans’ five game win-streak, a streak that came to an end Tuesday against the Warriors. New Orleans is 5-1 in its past six games and is tied with Denver for the second-best record in that span.
The key to New Orleans’ success in that six-game window was a resurgence on the defensive end of the floor. The Pelicans have posted a 102.0 Defensive Rating in the past six games, the best rating in the NBA by more than 6.0 points.
That stellar defensive play has been complimented with a 120.0 Offensive Rating, a direct result of New Orleans shooting a league-leading 44.4% from 3 in the past six games.
The Pelicans are one of the hotter teams in the NBA and it couldn’t come at a better time as New Orleans fights for a chance to make the postseason.
The beginning of March was rather gloomy for the Nuggets. During a 10-day stretch from March 8th to 18th, Denver went just 1-5 and lost to some bad teams, such as the Spurs and Bulls.
However, the Nuggets have turned things around since, winning four straight games in an impressive stretch of basketball.
The biggest issue during the Nuggets skid was the defensive end of the floor. In fact, Denver’s opponents shot 50.8% from the field over those six games.
The only real concern for Denver is the injury report. MVP candidate Nikola Jokic is listed as questionable with a calf injury. His status is something that should be monitored up until tip-off.
Both of these teams have been rather dominant over the past week or so, but I like New Orleans to cover the spread here as an underdog.
It should be noted that the Pelicans have had a cake walk of a schedule in the past six games, three of which came against the three-worst teams in the Western Conference. However, I don’t think that should take away from the fact that the Pelicans posted a +108 point differential in that stretch.
Additionally, New Orleans has held its ground against Denver this season, despite being 1-2 in the season series. The Pelicans won the first matchup by 15 points and lost the following two games by a combined 10 points.
This is the first game of a back-to-back for Denver, with the second game coming against the Suns. It’s possible we see Jokic sit this one out, but even if he suits up, I like New Orleans on the spread. I would play this down to 5.5.
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